“Back? That’s it? Not back-to-school, or back to reality, or back to routine? Just back?”

Yup. Just…back. We’re back. It’s September, and we’re back to our regularly scheduled program, folks. Which means a lot of things, like routines and rituals and homework and activities and rushing around and cramming more into a week than is probably strictly healthy. It also means, for me, back to thinking carefully and strategically about meals in a way that I don’t usually have to do in the summertime.

There’s a certain science to dinnertime success during the school year. On Tuesday nights, I’ve got my choral rehearsals and L.’s got violin and viola lessons; we’ve got to be fed and out the door on time. On Thursdays, P. has fencing practice over the dinner hour and we get home late enough that I can’t really be starting to cook when I walk in the door with a starving, sweaty 10-year-old in tow; things have to be at least in process before we leave, or the whole evening goes sideways. Every six weeks or so, I’ll have a concert week, which means five or six nights out of seven that get disrupted for dress rehearsals and performances. L. will certainly join the school Drama Club again and add his rehearsal schedule to the mix. P. will add evening fencing practices on Saturdays to our usual routine. And so on.

But there’s also a different kind of calculation at work during the school year, especially in September, when we’re trying to ease the burdens of new schools and teachers and teams and friend dramas and all the stuff that happens when kids re-enter their school day lives from summer vacation. I’m thinking about what it means to them to sit down at a family dinner table after a long day, and how eating dinner with us breaks up the worry of a difficult homework assignment or an upsetting interaction with a classmate. I’m thinking about meals that remind them that we know their likes and dislikes, and that home is always the place where they can look forward to relaxing when the world outside is full of pop quizzes and bad grades and rainstorms that start while you’re walking home from school. In September, I’m trying to make sure that the menus tilt more in the direction of things that will make them smile, and less toward things that Mom wants them to eat more of Because I Said So.

So, yeah. We’re back. And at the end of every school day, my kids will be back at the dinner table with comfort on their plates and a natural place to breathe, relax, and step away from the day-to-day stress.

September 2019 Meal Plan


Sunday, 9/1: Ravioli salad with lemony grilled chicken
Monday, 9/2: Cottage pie and salad
Tuesday, 9/3: First day of school! Chicken cutlets (we use my chicken nuggets recipe, but with bigger pieces of chicken), yellow rice and vegetables
Wednesday, 9/4: Breakfast burritos and fruit crisp
Thursday, 9/5: Elbows with mini meatballs
Friday, 9/6: Crash time after the first week back. Snack plate and a movie.
Saturday, 9/7: We’ve got concert tickets, so the whole family will be out to dinner tonight!


Sunday, 9/8: Sunday Roast Chicken dinner
Monday, 9/9: Baked eggs with sweet potatoes and greens
Tuesday, 9/10: White chicken chili and corn muffins
Wednesday, 9/11: Greek chicken and quinoa salad
Thursday, 9/12: Gyro in homemade pita
Friday, 9/13: Mozzarella in carrozza, salads
Saturday, 9/14: Fresh seafood


Sunday, 9/15: Slow cooker herbed turkey breast with gravy and fixings
Monday, 9/16: Creamy mushroom pasta (MyRecipes), salad
Tuesday, 9/17: Breakfast tostadas (The Family Dinner Project), refried beans and fruit
Wednesday, 9/18: Turkey pot pie
Thursday, 9/19: Sheet pan pork and sweet potato satay
Friday, 9/20: My mom’s old-school Hamburger grinders
Saturday, 9/21: Fresh seafood


Sunday, 9/22: Lasagna with meat sauce
Monday, 9/23: Wonton soup and fried rice
Tuesday, 9/24: Chicken quesadillas, corn and beans
Wednesday, 9/25: Skillet goat cheese chicken, roasted potatoes and broccoli
Thursday, 9/26: Baked eggs with toast and cream (Saveur), salad
Friday, 9/27: Homemade pizza
Saturday, 9/28: Fresh seafood


Sunday, 9/29: Slow cooker char siu pork with rice and stir fried vegetables
Monday, 9/30: Pasta e ceci (Smitten Kitchen), salad and potato rolls